An American freelance television cameraman working for NBC News in Liberia has tested positive for the Ebola virus and will be flown back to the United States for treatment, the network said on Thursday.
Diagnosis of the cameraman, who the network said came down with symptoms that included aches and fatigue on Wednesday, is believed to mark the first time an American journalist has been infected with the deadly virus since the current outbreak in West Africa.
The freelancer, who NBC said works as a writer as well as a cameraman, and whose name was not given by the network, is the fifth US citizen to have contracted the disease in Africa.
A Liberan man visiting relatives in Dallas recently – Thomas Eric Duncan – became the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States.
The 33-year-old journalist was hired on Tuesday to serve as a second cameraman for NBC News chief medical editor and correspondent Nancy Snyderman, who is with three other network employees on assignment in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, covering the Ebola outbreak.
Immediately after beginning to feel ill and discovering he was running a slight fever, the cameraman quarantined himself and sought medical advice.
He then went to a Doctors Without Borders treatment center to be tested for the virus, and the positive result came back less than 12 hours later, NBC said.
“We are doing everything we can to get him the best care possible. He will be flown back to the United States for treatment at a medical center that is equipped to handle Ebola patients,” NBC News president Deborah Turness said in a note to network staff.
Turness also said that as a precaution, Snyderman and the rest of the NBC crew would be flown back to the United States on a private charter plane and will place themselves under quarantine for 21 days, which she said is “at the most conservative end of the spectrum of medical guidance.”
For now, she said, Snyderman and her crew were being closely monitored and had shown no symptoms of warning signs of the disease.
American aid workers Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol became the first US citizens diagnosed with Ebola during the current outbreak when they were infected in July in Monrovia. Last month, Dr Rick Sacra tested positive after working at a local hospital, also in Liberia. Brantly, Writebol and Sacra have all been released.
A fourth unnamed American who contracted Ebola in Africa is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.